Now striking out alone, Matt’s strong sense of story telling and gritty vocals have meant for a heady combination and obvious choice for PRS for Music’s Songs for Manchester campaign. This new initiative sees five local songwriters travelling around the city and writing songs about businesses which support songwriters through buying one of the collecting society’s licence.
With preparations under way for a new EP of original material we caught up with Matt to find out more about him and his musical ties to his home city…
What made you first start writing your own songs?
I’ve been involved in music since the age of 10 when I started learning the piano. It was very early on that I started to play around with my own ideas but they were little more than small riffs and chord progressions. They then turned into full songs as I started working with local bands as a lead vocalist. Some of those songs are still present in my sets today.
How did you get involved with the Songs for Manchester project?
It kind of fell into my lap. I’d been doing gigs around the Manchester area for just over 12 months when I was offered the role as a singer/songwriter for the campaign. After learning what the project was about and realising the opportunities that lay within it as a songwriter, I jumped at the chance to be on board.
Could you explain a little about your campaign songs – which businesses did you choose to inspire your new compositions and why?
I have a lot of fond memories of various places particularly in the city centre, so I found it easier to use these places as a basis for the songs. One song in particular Northern Playground, is inspired by businesses around the Northern Quarter in Manchester city centre and includes the names of various places past to present. Night and Day (a popular music venue) is featured in one of the songs again as for me it holds a lot of happy memories from earlier in my music career.
What are the challenges of writing music for the project?
Normally I write about things that are specific to me i.e. memories or situations. This is my first experience of commercial songwriting, so the approach is very different. The big challenge for me has been to fit names of businesses, street names, and somebody else’s memories into a song while still making it believable.
Why is it important that local businesses support songwriters via a PRS for Music licence?
Unsigned musicians are what keep the music industry ticking over. All the famous bands, acoustic performers and singers were there at the start of their career. If these people aren’t supported in forwarding their careers then where would the next crop of talent come from? PRS helps to keep singers and songwriters doing what they are good at just by making sure they get what they deserve in terms of royalties. I think the price of a PRS licence is a small price to pay to be able to play the work of thousands of musicians in a business.
What are your favourite songs written by Manchester artists?
Most Oasis songs (spent most of my youth listening to them so I have an excuse). Sail Away and Other Side by David Gray. F.E.A.R. by Ian Brown and most of the Stone Roses back catalogue.
How would you describe your local music scene?
Lively and extremely diverse. The amount of quality acts that are about today in the Manchester area, covering all genres, is staggering.
What’s been your most memorable musical moment to date?
Earlier this year I launched two tracks as part of a compilation album with four bands. The launch party brought together hundreds of our respective fans, and was one of the most memorable nights of my life. Watching fans of different genres merging and supporting all the acts together was an amazing spectacle.
What have you learnt from being part of this project?
I would say being part of this campaign has taught me a lot in terms of street performing. It’s the first time I’ve done any performances outside of a music venue, and it’s very different to performing on a stage in front of a captive audience.
What are you working on next?
I am currently writing new material that I hope to release around late October/early November. Watch this space…
Visit the PRS for Music Facebook page to find out more about the campaign and how to enter the Songs for Manchester competition. Check out our previous interview with fellow campaign artist Baxter Rhodes.
Watch Matt play Northern Playground below;